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Each year Hindus around the globe celebrate their Holi Mahostav festival.  Also known as ‘The Festival of Colours’ or ‘The Festival of Love’, this ancient Hindu festival dates back to the 7th century.  Hindus in Australia will mark the Holi festival by visiting friends and family, and attending large scale community events taking place during March and April.

The 2018 Holi festival will be celebrated in India on the 2nd of March which marks the end of Indian winter and celebrates the beginning of spring, signifying to Hindus the triumph of good over evil.   Holi showcases an incredible and often chaotic display of colour, dance and music and is celebrated by Hindus around the world, with many non-Hindus also joining in this joyous event.

Holi’s festivities have their roots in various Hindu legends.  The first evening of Holi is known as Holika Dahan and is a time for lighting bonfires to mark the death of ‘Holika’ the devil.  Lighting the Holika bonfires represents the victory of good over evil and is how the Holi festival got its name.

The next morning is called Rangwali Holi and this is where people celebrate the festival of colour by chasing and throwing the dry coloured powder known as Gulal at each other.  This part of Holi originated from the Hindu legend of Krishna whose face was dark blue, and his love for Radha.  Legend has it that Krishna was worried about how different his and Radha’s skin colours were and so he painted her face to match his. 

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The coloured powder also represents the coming of spring and all the colours of nature.  Many people celebrate by wetting the dry powder and applying it to their face, with some even mixing the dry powder in a full bucket of water to completely drench their body in wet colour. 

If you’re attending Holi celebrations, then expect to be covered with this perfumed powder as a celebration of Krishna and Radha’s love.  The image of revellers covering each other with colour is perhaps the best known image of the Holi festival.

Like most Hindu celebrations, food plays an important part of the festivities.  In addition to traditional Indian dishes, some special dishes are also prepared to celebrate Holi.  These include shakarparas (a sugar coated deep fried snack) and gujias - a type of samosa filled with dried fruit and coconut.  Indian sweets like kheer, halwa and pooran poli (a sweet stuffed flatbread) are also popular.  Thandai is an almond based chilled drink which is prepared to complement the various sweet snacks.

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Holi is not only about lighting bonfires and throwing coloured powder; it is a time for families, friends and communities to throw away inhibitions and get together to celebrate love, peace and happiness.

The Hindu Council of Australia is hosting events to mark Holi in Sydney’s Wentworthville on the 3rd of March and Liverpool on the 11th of March.  Bhavan Australia is also organising a variety of events including a parade through the Sydney CBD and a Holi walk through the Darling Harbour precinct.  Events will incorporate performances and food in keeping with the traditional theme of colour and culture and take place on the 14th and 15th of April.